So, this has been swirling around in my brain for a few weeks now and I wonder with genuine interest what others might think.
According to my children’s school, walking is P.E.
My immediate reaction as an active person, whose career is essentially built around making sure children are physically active and receive the highest level of physical education delivery, was one of disbelief, closely followed by fury.
But, I am going to try to be rational and not reactionary, so here goes, lets dig into it.
So my first and most fundamental argument against walking being P.E. is simply this. Where is the E? The education? Our children can walk when they start school, so what do the schools claim to be the learning element? What can our children do at the end of the lesson, that they could not do, at the beginning?
Where is their progress?
Now to be clear, I am all for walking. I love it. I love getting out into nature and taking a brisk walk with friends or family and putting the world to rights as we tramp across the countryside. I’ve personally walked up all of the UK’s 3 Peaks and scaled Mount Kilimanjaro. Walking is ace.
I am also very much aware of the fact that walking can contribute to strengthening bones, increasing muscle power, burning calories and releasing endorphins, to make us feel good.
There are other health benefits too, an extended brisk walk, results in reduced risk factors for :
- high blood pressure
- heart disease
- high cholesterol
But these are simply not going to be achieved by walking around the school grounds, as my children are being instructed to do once a week instead of a P.E. lesson. The ambling pace of children begrudgingly circling their school buildings is also not (for most children) the brisk pace required to increase the heart rate and improve cardiovascular health.
In addition, energy expenditure is vitally important when considering the benefits of walking.
A study completed in 2013 made a clear conclusion, that in order to gain the aforementioned benefits from walking, as opposed to running, you would need to expend the same amount of energy as if you had gone for a run. So, a short run, which is a vigorous intensity exercise will garner the same benefits as a much longer, brisk walk, which is deemed a moderate exercise.
That in itself is a further nail in the “walking for P.E. coffin,” as the children are not being asked to walk for an extended period of time, so the benefits could be argued negligible, although as an addition to P.E. I would be very much in support of leaving the classroom daily to get outside, it’s just NOT P.E.
Even running could be considered a stretch as far as Physical “education” is concerned. Where is the element of education? The learning here, is more accurately a greater knowledge of ourselves, how we handle discomfort, the pace we choose to run at and for how long. We learn in some ways certainly, but is it not more a self discovery than an education?
But, I’ll leave that for another day!